A nonprofit organization has submitted a plan to build new homes on the site of American Legion Post #114 on Prince William Street in Manassas just east of Wellington Road.
Last month, People Inc. of Virginia filed a rezoning request for three plots at the post to construct 12 duplex units on 1.5 acres. The nonprofit is seeking that the property be rezoned from a single-family designation to the mixed-use downtown designation.
According to the application, which is currently undergoing staff review and is not yet scheduled for a Planning Commission hearing, the plan is to give leasing “preference” to veterans, though the application itself does not specify how that would work or what the affordability requirements would be. The project would also “revitalize” the post building, founded in 1946 by 16 African American soldiers from Manassas.
The application says the development would provide affordable homes near the Virginia Railway Express station and be compatible with surrounding homes. “The proposed use will provide much-needed, newly built affordable residences in the city.”
Representatives from People Inc. did not respond to a request for comment, but the organization’s 2020 annual report says that the nonprofit helped 12 families buy homes and helped 21 families obtain “safe affordable housing” in 2020. According to the rezoning application, People Inc. owns and manages 31 affordable housing properties in Virginia and Tennessee. The American Legion site would have six one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units.
Matt Arcieri, the city’s community development director, and council member Mark Wolfe said a bigger project had been in the works, with officials hoping it would help address a small part of the need for affordable housing in Manassas and revitalize a dilapidated property. But concerns about density led to a significant reduction in proposed units.
“I think it’s a great possibility, both in terms of fitting the neighborhood and the people we’re trying to serve,” Wolfe told InsideNoVa.
The rezoning will have to go to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council for final approval.
Arcieri said the city and the American Legion have been working on various iterations of the project for several years. “At one point they were talking about something much denser; they didn’t get good feedback on that from the community and the neighborhood especially.”
According to the application, the post was built in 1946 for veterans of World Wars I and II. The 16 soldiers who organized it weren’t allowed into the segregated white American Legion, so they received a temporary charter from American Legion headquarters for a “Colored Post,” which was named for Paul W. Mitchell Jr., one of the founders.